Tour 1992,  19 - 23 August

stagedistance (km)climbing (m)
Lignières - Thun - Susten - Meien1902370
Meien - Furka - Nufenen - Ronco852650
Ronco - Gottardo - Sisikon + Weggis - Ehrendingen1481360
Ehrendingen - Olten - Lignières130800


Stage 1 (19 August 1992): Lignières - Thun - Susten - Meien


I started this 1992 tour from my parent's home. They have a farm near Lignières (canton of Neuchâtel). I hit the road early and began to ride down to Le Landeron, between the lakes of Neuchâtel and Biel/Bienne. The road was then quite flat to Laupen. I wanted to avoid the city of Bern, but this made me climb more than 400m before riding down again to Thun. At least the landscape was nice and the roads good for cycling.
The next part of the trip was along the lakes of Thun and then Brienz. There were no small roads anymore, only the main road with more traffic. But it was still a nice ride. Almost flat as it must be along a lake. I arrived at Brienz around noon and made a short stop on the shore of the lake. I refueled the machine with some bread and softdrink.
It was still flat to Meiringen. Between Innertkirchen and Meiringen, however, the river Aar goes through a narrow canyon. There is a path along this canyon, very good to walk, but nothing to ride a race bike. It is therefore necessary to go over the small Lammi hill to Innertkirchen, which is the town at the foot of both the Grimsel and Susten passes.
And there i was, attacking the Susten. The pass by itself is a respectable effort. But for me it turned to be just a bit too much, at the end of this long stage. I ran out of energy and the last third was very, very hard. The worst climb i've ever experienced. I hadn't forgotten to eat on the way and drank a lot (more than 10 liters for that day!), so what was the problem? One thing was probably that i was lacking long trainings and my muscles were thus not prepared to store enough glycogene. As a matter of fact, the missing glycogene was replaced by a bit too much of fat. This was a hard but good lesson.
There had been a big landslide two years before on the other side of the Susten. The road was still being rebuilt and the traffic was lead over another, narrow, steep and winding road. This required too much breaking and the rims of the bike got too warm. The glue of the rear sewn-up was melting and it began to turn. Then came the famous, nasty whistling. I didn't loose my calm, perhaps just because i was too tired. After replacing the sewn-up, i rode down to Meien, where i found a simple little hotel for the night.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Les Prés (Lignières)0920 
Le Landeron10430 
Sustenpass (Tunnel)17722201020
total190 2370


Stage 2 (20 August 1992): Meien - Furka - Nufenen - Ronco


After the poor performance of the previous day up to the Susten, i feared a bit this second stage. The first part was easy, for sure: down the Wassen. But then came the Schöllenen, which i climbed already the year before. But this time i turned right when i reached Andermatt, following the valley of Urseren west to Realp. From there, the road climbs again, up to the Furka pass. I was not riding very fast, trying not to spend all my energy in this climb: i should still need some for the second pass of the day.
I did not know anything about it and rode through Tiefenbach, the place where i would, years later, experience a serious crash. But the way up is usually less dangerous and i reached the pass without problem. I made a short stop in the descent to look at the Rhone glacier. It can be seen from the Hotel Belvedere. The Furka pass has quite a high touristical traffic in the summer. Because it was already about noon, the place was really busy. It is always better to ride early over passes in order to avoid the worst traffic: tourists with cars or %!&$#!+ motorhomes are usually lazy and don't hit the road so early.
The road to the Grimsel pass can also be seen when riding down to Gletsch, the small town where both ways join. Then the road still goes down to the more flat part of the Goms valley. My way was, however, leading up again, from Ulrichen up to the left, direction Nufenen pass (Novena from the other, italian speaking side). But first i refilled my bottles at a fountain. Again, i took my time to ride up. Something had happened that day on the Nufenen road. I don't know if he used too much of what he was transporting, but the driver of a small truck came out of the road and slid down on the steep meadow below. Part of the load was broken, but not all: bottles of wine.
I reached the top of this pass, the highest (with a paved road) entierly in Switzerland, and bought my trditional sticker as a souvenir. The descent was nice. I stopped on the way down and stayed at Ronco, in the Bedretto valley.

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
total85 2650


Stage 3 (21 August 1992): Ronco - Gottardo - Sisikon + Weggis - Ehrendingen


The first problem of the third day was to get some breakfast. The personnel of the hotel had obviously some difficulty to stand up...
The Bedretto valley is no longer steep down from Ronco. Airolo was reached is short time. It is at the south end of the Gothard tunnels, which are one for road traffic and one for the railroad, both important passages accross the Alps. At the same time, Airolo is at the foot of the pass. There are actually two roads up to the Passo san Gottardo: the old one, stone-paved, and the new one, which is a highway (forbidden for bikes) in its lower part. I chose to stay on the old road (known as " La Tremola") even for the upper part, where it would be allowed to ride on the new road. The cobblestones were shahahahaking, but there was no traffic along the narrow curves of the old road. I would, however, not recommand it at all for riding down, at least not with a race bike.
After a long descent, i reached the plain again and then the Lake of Four Cantons. That year, however, the Axenstrasse, the road along the lake, was closed. Some big rocks above the road were unstable and threatening to crash down. It was not possible for me to ride on the other side of the lake as the only way is a divided highway with a very long tunnel. From Sisikon i therefore took a boat which brought me to Weggis.
Back on the bike, i continued to the north. The rest of the stage was entierly in the lowlands. There were only some hills. The kind of hills which slowly drive energy out of your body, but without the reward of real mountains or passes. I finally reached Unterehrendingen (good exercise if you learn to speak german, isn't it...). Friends of mine, Lucia and Jean-Luc, lived there, with son Raphaël and daughter Nicole. It was good to see them again.
After refreshing myself, i listened to the news on the radio: there had been heavy thunderstorms in all the region around Lucerne. I had just been early enough. Lucky me this time!

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
San Gottardo252110970
>>> Weggis82430 
Küssnacht am Rigi89440 
total148 1360


Stage 4 (23 August 1992): Ehrendingen - Olten - Lignières


There is not much to tell about the last stage. It was basically just to ride back along the plain at the foot of the Jura. It was cool and i got some rain on the way. The last part of the stage was more interesting, both from the landscape (Lake of Biel/Bienne, Jura mountains) and from the last climb of this tour, from Douane (Twann in german) to the plateau of Diesse. This is known to those who read the novel "Der Richter und sein Henker" ("The judge and his executant") by Dürrematt. But the road is no longer the same as the one taken by the main character in the book: the road is nowadays on the other side of the stream.
I arrived back at Lignières at the end of this tour 1992. It had not been a long trip, but quite a hard one. In order to have more pleasure riding, i would have to be better trained the next time!

 distance (km)altitude (m)climbing (m)
Prés Ronds (Lignières)127820 
Les Prés (Lignières)130920100
total130 800

PS / 4.12.1996